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Saturdays past — 6 Comments

  1. Remembering unhappy days incarcerated in boarding schools seems to be a recurring feature of British-Irish middle class autobiography. Nicholas Montsarrat, author of The Cruel Sea and other popular bestsellers, has a couple of grim chapters about his schooldays at Winchester in his autobiography (Life is a Four Letter Word), and even Winston Churchill talks about the idiocy of learning to decline the Latin noun mensa at Harrow (mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa). I spent two tender years being schooled away from home. It was spartan living in an unheated dormitory, the refectory food was repetitious and boring, we were trooped off Sunday mass along country roads spattered with cow dung, and oh oh oh, I was sometimes slapped with a stick by teacher Miss Flaherty for getting my sums wrong. All I will say now fifty + years removed is that it toughened me up physically and emotionally. Much of my career has been spent abroad and I have enjoyed it. I only ever met two former pupils of the prison house. One became a manager in the rock music business, and the other progressed in the arts world.

    Do many French, German or Dutch people write about unhappy childhood at boarding schools?

  2. I went to a special school because I had asthma and had missed so much ordinary school; everyone there had their fees paid by local authorities. (We couldn’t have afforded a small fraction of the £700 a term that the place charged in fees). It was a toughening experience, but that was an explicit part of its purpose.

    Our daughter goes to boarding school and loves it!

  3. Ian, Only go back to enjoy the views across Dartmoor and the view down across Newton-Abbot and out across Torbay from Hay Tor…I wouldn’t bother with Torquay…no cow dung on the roads now, big business farms keep the animals in sheds now……..You may get to drive over a few sheep droppings though…..I am currently working on the outskirts of Newton Abbot……

  4. I go back to the Moor every couple of years, but won’t go back to the school (which is now an adventure centre)

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